Wind Load: Rolldown Hurricane Shutters Explained

Rolldown hurricane shutters, also known as roll-up or rolling shutters, are a type of protective barrier installed on buildings to shield windows, doors, and other openings from the destructive forces of hurricanes and other severe weather events. These shutters are designed to roll down from a box installed above the opening, providing a solid, durable shield against wind, rain, and flying debris. One of the key factors in the design and installation of rolldown hurricane shutters is the consideration of wind load, which refers to the pressure exerted by wind on structures.

Understanding wind load is crucial for the effective use of rolldown hurricane shutters. It not only influences the design and material choice of the shutters but also their installation process and maintenance. This glossary article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of wind load as it pertains to rolldown hurricane shutters, covering everything from the basic principles of wind load to its practical implications for shutter design, installation, and maintenance.

Understanding Wind Load

Wind load is a term used in structural engineering to describe the force that wind exerts on a structure. It is a significant factor in the design of buildings and other structures, as it can cause stress, deformation, and in extreme cases, structural failure. The wind load on a structure is influenced by several factors, including the wind’s speed and direction, the shape and orientation of the structure, and the surrounding terrain.

For rolldown hurricane shutters, understanding wind load is crucial. These shutters must be designed and installed to withstand the high wind loads experienced during a hurricane, which can exceed 100 miles per hour in extreme cases. Failure to properly account for wind load can result in the shutters failing to protect the building during a storm, leading to damage or even structural failure.

Types of Wind Load

There are three main types of wind load: static, dynamic, and gust. Static wind load is the force exerted by a steady, constant wind. It is relatively straightforward to calculate and is typically the primary consideration in the design of structures and components like rolldown hurricane shutters.

Dynamic wind load, on the other hand, refers to the forces exerted by changing wind conditions, such as gusts or changes in wind direction. This type of wind load is more complex to calculate and can cause additional stress on structures and components. Finally, gust wind load refers specifically to the forces exerted by short, intense bursts of wind, which are a common feature of hurricanes and other severe storms.

Calculating Wind Load

Calculating the wind load on a structure or component is a complex process that involves several steps. First, the basic wind speed for the location must be determined. This is typically provided by local building codes or weather data. Next, this basic wind speed is adjusted based on factors such as the height and shape of the structure, the surrounding terrain, and the expected duration of the wind.

The adjusted wind speed is then used to calculate the wind pressure, which is the force exerted by the wind per unit area. This is typically done using the formula P = 0.00256 x V^2, where P is the wind pressure and V is the wind speed. Finally, the wind load is calculated by multiplying the wind pressure by the area of the structure or component exposed to the wind.

Wind Load on Rolldown Hurricane Shutters

The calculation of wind load on rolldown hurricane shutters follows the same basic steps as for any other structure or component. However, there are some additional considerations specific to these shutters. For example, the area exposed to the wind is typically the entire face of the shutter, which can be quite large for shutters covering wide windows or doors.

Additionally, the shape of the shutter can influence the wind load. Rolldown shutters are typically flat and rectangular, which can create a large amount of wind resistance and increase the wind load. Some designs incorporate features to reduce this wind resistance, such as aerodynamic shapes or vents that allow some wind to pass through.

Designing for Wind Load

Designing rolldown hurricane shutters to withstand wind load involves several key considerations. First and foremost, the shutters must be strong enough to resist the wind pressure without deforming or failing. This typically involves choosing materials with high strength and durability, such as steel or high-strength aluminum.

However, strength is not the only consideration. The shutters must also be designed to distribute the wind load evenly across their surface and to transfer this load to the building structure without causing damage. This often involves the use of reinforcement features, such as ribs or stiffeners, as well as careful design of the shutter mounting and attachment points.

Material Selection

The choice of material for rolldown hurricane shutters is a critical factor in their ability to withstand wind load. The material must have sufficient strength to resist the wind pressure, but it also needs to have other properties, such as durability, corrosion resistance, and ease of maintenance.

Steel and aluminum are the most common materials used for rolldown hurricane shutters. Steel is very strong and durable, but it is also heavy and can be prone to corrosion. Aluminum is lighter and more corrosion-resistant, but it is not as strong as steel. High-strength aluminum alloys can provide a good balance of strength, weight, and corrosion resistance.

Installation Considerations

The installation of rolldown hurricane shutters is another critical factor in their ability to withstand wind load. The shutters must be securely attached to the building structure, with the attachment points designed to distribute the wind load evenly and to transfer it to the structure without causing damage.

Typically, this involves attaching the shutters to the building’s structural framing, using fasteners designed for high-load applications. The shutters must also be installed in a way that ensures they are level and aligned correctly, to avoid creating uneven loads or stress points.

Maintenance and Inspection

Maintenance and inspection are also important for ensuring that rolldown hurricane shutters can withstand wind load. Regular maintenance can help to identify and address any issues that might compromise the shutters’ strength or performance, such as corrosion, damage, or wear.

Inspection should focus on the shutters themselves, as well as their attachment points and any other components that are critical for their performance under wind load. Any issues identified during inspection should be addressed promptly to ensure that the shutters are always ready to provide effective protection against hurricanes and other severe weather events.


Wind load is a critical factor in the design, installation, and maintenance of rolldown hurricane shutters. Understanding wind load and how it affects these shutters can help to ensure that they provide effective, reliable protection against the destructive forces of hurricanes and other severe weather events.

From the selection of materials and design features to the installation process and ongoing maintenance, every aspect of rolldown hurricane shutters is influenced by wind load. By taking this factor into account, it is possible to create shutters that are not only strong and durable, but also capable of withstanding the high wind loads that are common during hurricanes.

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